Hockey: Cardiff and Met say promotion in doubt after international row
Welsh men's hockey team Cardiff and Met have had their promotion bid derailed after a club versus country row.
They were five points clear at the top of the Conference West league with three games remaining when they lost eight players to Wales duty.
England Hockey, who run the league, denied a request to postpone the games and Cardiff lost both, much to the frustration of head coach Wallid Abdo.
"It's frustrating, I feel like the door was slammed in our face," Abdo said.
England Hockey league rules state that teams cannot postpone matches due to player unavailability, whatever the reason.
Abdo believes Cardiff are in a unique situation compared to their rivals across the border, however, as they have so many Wales internationals in their ranks.
"We've had to play two league fixtures without eight of our senior internationals and now we are second in the table after losing those two vital games," Abdo added.
"We petitioned England Hockey by email and asked if we could postpone the games but they came back and said no, stating that other clubs have had to put up with internationals being away.
"But I don't know any English clubs that have eight, nine, ten internationals playing in their first sixteen."
To win the Conference West, Cardiff and Met have to win their last match this weekend and hope Team Bath either draw or lose.
England Hockey have discussed changing the rules next season but that has come too late for Abdo's side.
He added: "All we wanted was some understanding of our special circumstances.
"We are a small nation and we are trying our best to get our hockey nation to develop and being in the Premier League is the perfect place to do that."
England Hockey's competitions manager Stephen Barlow said if club fixtures were postponed for international dates, the disruption to the domestic season would be too great.
He commented: "Not dissimilar to other sports such as rugby and cricket, domestic hockey in England continues when international matches are played.
"The league regulations, which Cardiff and all clubs sign up to, are clear that there are no postponement regulations in place for player unavailability."